Studies have reported that middle and high school students are sleep deprived. To combat this fatigue some teens have been known to drink energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, and NOS in order to feel more alert and productive. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that teens refrain from using these energy drinks because they have been shown to cause health problems in children and adolescents, and sometimes even death.
Energy drinks contain the stimulant caffeine. There is little or no regulation of the use of caffeine in energy drinks. The total amount of caffeine in energy drinks can exceed 500 mg (equal to 14 cans of a caffeinated soft drink). Recently there has been a 40 percent spike in Poison Control Center calls because of accidental ingestion of energy drinks in children under the age of six. Caffeine affects the developing central nervous system of children and adolescents. Caffeine overdose may cause agitation, anxiety, increased blood pressure, heart rate changes, stomachaches, headaches and insomnia. Caffeine overdose has been known to cause cardiac problems and even death in children with known cardiac issues and in adolescents with healthy hearts when they are engaging in sports or exercise.
Energy drinks also contain other stimulants in addition to the high amounts of caffeine such as ginseng, and guarana. There have not been studies on the long term effects of caffeine and other stimulants in children or teens.
Some adolescents may get addicted to the caffeine and other stimulants in energy drinks. Some studies have shown that energy drink abuse could be a gateway to other risky behaviors and other drug abuse in the future. A song by artist Beenie touts the fun had while “Drinking Rum and Redbull,” while a knock off of the song claim that Adderall and Red Bull are the perfect combination for a night of studying, leading to the misperception that these drinks are harmless, and in fact, boost one’s performance and energy level. If a teen does drink energy drinks and alcohol, or mixes the energy drink with a prescription medication it can be a lethal mix.
Energy drinks are appealing to adolescents since they may be fruit flavored and have a high amount of sugar. High sugar content drink abuse may contribute to being overweight, obese, or getting cavities.
Although adolescents may think consuming an energy drink may help them overcome fatigue, the energy drink may be contributing to increased difficulty falling asleep and more sleep disruptions during the night. Adolescents with poor sleep have been linked to adverse risk behaviors, poor health outcomes, and poor academic performance.